pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
Because every visit to Massachusetts should include a trip to the MoS!

Museum of Science exhibit halls (Boston MA, 11:51am).  Finally, we’re doing something during this trip that Kid #2 can actually enjoy!  $92 for a family of four.  The overly-geeky ticket machine announced that it would be printing five tickets, but one of them was just a ticket-shaped receipt.  Oddly enough, I can’t find that receipt now, just my own ticket-stub.
      Kid #1 spent much of her time at the museum off with some online friends she had never met before but who live in this area.  We were supposed to meet up with them near the giant T. Rex statue, but the statue has been replaced with a less-imposing one that shows a more realistic stance for the animal.  Later, I found that the old statue (which Wifey and I remember from when we were kids) had been moved outside to the station where you can take an amphibious bus tour of Boston.  Even later, I learned that Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a T. Rex model that has been cleverly designed so you can pose it either way (“15' tall as if surveying the landscape or 12' tall as if lunging for prey”).
      I did not speak directly to Kid #1’s friends.  The two things they have in common with her are ⑴ nonstandard sexuality and ⑵ fondness for Star Trek.  As the friends were preparing to leave the museum, I asked Kid #1 whether she had told them about Star Trek Continues.  She had not, so she then launched into a description of the video that her uncle had found, which they thought was interesting.  So we were all united by the love of geeky old TV shows!
      My kids remember from previous trips the exhibit where you pedal a bicycle to energize a lightbulb — and a skeleton on another bicycle keeps pace with you.  That exhibit is gone now.  Instead, they now have wristbands where you can try out various health exhibits and then go to their website to see how you did.  I did not like that you are forbidden to do the same exhibit more than once on the same wristband, although I can imagine crowd-control reasons why they wanted it to work that way.  But the website’s behaviour is less excusable: you have to clear cookies in order to enter a different wristband ID number.  You know, there’s such a thing as “trying too hard” to remember something the user once typed in!  And there is no reason not to display the ID number that goes with the data you are currently showing.  Anyway, to see my results, go to exhibits.mos.org/view-your-data and type in my ID number 01564722.
      The 500 kilovolt Tesla coils and the 5 megavolt Van de Graaf generator are still just as sparky and noisy as ever!  I am not sure whether they taught the Tesla coils some new songs to sing since last time.
      For me, the worst exhibit was the live talk about Love Canal, which contained politically-correct lies designed to make Americans feel better about their country than it deserves.  First off, the Superfund was not a “law passed by the EPA” because the EPA does not pass laws.  Only Congress can do that, and the Constitution prohibits them from delegating that responsibility although they are constantly trying to.  Second, the point of Superfund is not to “make those responsible pay for the cleanup”.  Just the opposite, in fact: Superfund is a way of getting these things cleaned up *without* making those responsible pay for it, because otherwise nothing would ever happen except motion practice for lawyers.  But the museum didn’t want to tell the kids that (perhaps in fear of losing some of their funding), so a science museum lied to children about the politics behind the science.  This sort of thing used to happen all the time in the Soviet Union, and apparently still happens today in North Korea.  I remember a time when the USA was better than that.




Museum of Science cafeteria “Wolfgang Puck catering” (3:20pm).  $27.55 for crappy museum food.  Chef Puck should be ashamed to have his name on this restaurant.  I mean, it’s actually pretty good food for a museum cafeteria, and maybe the entrées are well-made on Donors’ Nights, but you can’t turn hamburgers and French fries into gourmet cuisine by slapping some famous chef’s name on your fast-food stand.

Museum of Science gift shop.  $7.42 for a “Boston” fridge magnet and also some rocks for Kid #2’s collection.

Museum of Science parking garage (5:23pm).  $17.75 for six hours’ rent of a parking space.  Not bad for Boston!

Outback Steakhouse (Bellingham MA, 8:55pm).  $79.28 for dinner.

Market Basket (Bellingham MA).  $50 for a Christmas gift-card for BIL #3 and his family.

pyesetz: (woof)
Congratulations to the new, #1 rated bunga of all time! Bárðar beats out Unga-, close Italian relative Bunga-, and previous champion Cowa-, and the eruption hasn't even really begun in earnest!

Of course, Bárðarbunga isn't actually in earnest. It's in Iceland. Hi-yo! That's a Scandinavia joke, folks! You don't get a lot of those on the front page, so enjoy it!

(source)
pyesetz: (woof)
I had no idea that cervines were so... flexible

pyesetz: (woof)

Dave Barry did a year-in-review article, which I have seen quoted repeatedly by stock-traders because he refers to various zombies, such as "the economy, which has somehow been recovering for years now without actually getting any better".

It's his usual excellent work, except there's just one thing: he identifies "kale" as one of the nasty trends of 2013:

Suddenly this year restaurants started putting kale into everything, even though it is an unappetizing form of plant life that until recently was used primarily for insulation. Even goats will not eat it. Goats, when presented with kale, are like, “No thanks, we’ll just chew on used seat cushions.”

Problem: goats will famously eat anything, even things that really shouldn't be activating their "food" detectors.  So I Googled for "goat likes kale" and found the attached image.  Yup, Mr. Barry was kidding — even goats will eat kale.  I just wonder why he decided to pick on the caprines for this joke.

I'd better go now, before I start quoting from Barry's I'll Mature when I'm Dead, which I received as a Hanukkah present this year.  There are so many quotable lines!

pyesetz: (woof)
I'm no chemist, but when I saw the picture to the left, I thought "this stuff is explosive, isn't it?"  Well, yes.  C₂N₁₄ amino azidotetrazole is so explosive, it emits 357 kcal/mole when you shine a light on it.  This makes its chemical properties very difficult to measure.  Put it in a spectrometer?  Kaboom.  Try to move the stuff across your lab bench?  Kaboom.  "There are no conceivable uses for it."

Hat tip: Pharyngula.
pyesetz: (woof)
In the tooltip for today's xkcd, Randall Munroe mentions "hydatid fluid" as one of the bodily by-products that can be offered for a war effort besides "blood, toil, tears, and sweat".  But what is that stuff?  Wikipedia mentions it as an aside in an entry on hepatic tapeworm infection.  They say that if the cyst ruptures and the hydatid fluid mixes with the rest of your body, the result is likely to be anaphylactic shock.  So how is this useful for a war effort?

Here is an article on "the usefulness of hydatid cyst fluid".  Apparently it is of some use in creating a blood test to see whether people have liver-tapeworm infections without lots of expensive CT and MRI scans.

Mr. Munroe's comics are very educational!
pyesetz: (song-doesnt-end)
"Although not as warm as previous months, the temperature for September was still 0.7 degrees above average. This now marks a full year and a half (18 months) where the monthly overall temperature has been above average."

source
pyesetz: (Default)
"I'll be bold and predict that today is going to be the coldest day we see until the fall."

(link)
pyesetz: (fire-hunter)

An article in the New York Times describes E₈ as “some sort of curvy, torus type of thing” and states twice that it has 57 dimensions.  The Wikipedia article on E₈ contains 2800 words, but after reading them I now know even less: E₈ seems to have only eight dimensions, or is it 248, or perhaps 696,729,600?  The number 57 does not appear there, but only in a catsup article.  They do show a nice Tinker-Toy picture, but obviously it captures very little of E₈’s hyperdimensional grandeur.

The problem is that I pre-announced a post about E₈, but I have no idea what that word *means* to mathematicians.  If I am to write an entire essay about a word that I don't understand, then I must be either a PHB or a linguist.  I actually have half a bachelor's degree in linguistics, so hopefully it will be okay if my hair isn't quite pointy enough for this essay.

So what does E₈ have to do with Objective Reality?  That’s a hard question.  Let's start with an easier one: is E₈ *alive*?  Think about that for a moment.  Does that sound like the silliest question you've heard all day?  It's completely outside the Overton window of socially-acceptable questions.  What kind of Commie-pinko-moonbat loonie would even ask such a thing?  Let's review the range of answers:
  • Western Civ: No, because E₈ was not “born” and cannot “die”.  It does not eat, reproduce, or evolve.
  • Anishinaabe (the Great Lakes Indians): Yes, because there are questions you can answer by studying E₈.
  • Brain science: Maybe, because we don't have a clear idea yet what the word “alive” actually means in terms of brain activation.  Some research suggests that the superior temporal sulcus is active when analyzing situations that Western Civ would say are “dead” while the Anishinaabe would say “alive”.
  • Furry: Yes, because the word E₈ can be drawn as a face-in-profile with a goatee.  Add some stick-figure arms and legs and you can make a dancing cartoon that sings about the philosophy of science in rhyming couplets.
  • Dictionary: Yes (senses 2 and 5) or no (senses 3 and 4) or begs the question (sense 1) or cupcake sauerbraten tarball (sense 6).
Well, that clears things up nicely, doesn't it?  We can now confidently conclude that philosophy is a method for turning wrong answers into a continuing stream of research grants. 

On to our next question: does E₈ *exist*?  Philosophers have made lots of money on this one!  (Bonus question: define “alive” and “exists” so that God has both properties but rainbow-pooping unicorns have neither.)  Let us review the isms that philosophers have come up with:
  • Nominalism: No, the word E₈ exists but the concept it refers to is imaginary.
  • Idealism: No, because only consciousness exists, not the things that we are conscious of.
  • Intuitionism: No, because only the natural numbers were created by God; everything else is man’s work.
  • Formalism: Begs the question because math is just a game and has nothing to do with the real world.
  • Logicism: Begs the question because math is just a sub-branch of logic so go ask the logicians.
  • Platonism: Sort of, but the E₈ that you or I know about is just a shadow of the real E₈ whose grandeur is beyond any ape’s ability to appreciate.
  • Social constructivism: Yes because E₈ is something that mathematicians talk about.
  • Empiricism: Yes because it was discovered rather than invented.
  • Realism: Yes, but only if E₈ describes string theory and string theory describes Objective Reality.

Well, *now* we're getting somewhere!  So if E₈ is needed to describe string theory and string theory is needed to describe Objective Reality and Mathematical Realism is the correct philosophy THEN WE WIN!

There's an article called An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything that was apparently never published in an official journal.  It was written by “surfer and theoretical physicist” A. Garrett Lisi.  BTW, the phrase “exceptionally simple” is a pun referring to E₈, not a measure of the theory’s conceptual difficulty!  The Wikipedia article has an animation, one frame of which I am showing to the right.  Note the multiple occurrences of the “Star of David” motif, hiding in plain sight within this physics theory, thus proving that Rabbinic Judaism is the only correct religion.

Anyway, Lisi’s theory shows how each of the 248 symmetries of E₈ can be thought of as corresponding to one of the 248 subatomic particles (including 22 that are yet to be discovered).  Many mathematician-physicists think that it would be sooo kewl if this theory turns out to be correct, although Gödel told us 80 years ago that there cannot be a “theory of everything” because every theory of the universe must be incomplete, inconsistent, trivial, and/or obsolete.  So why do they even bother?

Since I haven't completely run this topic into the ground, expect a (part III) at some point.

pyesetz: (Default)
I should just pack it in and move to Blogspot.  This LiveJournal just isn't very furry.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t wear a fursuit, I rarely write furry stories, and the only fursonal drawing I ever bought got ruined during the move to Canada.  There is no place in this Fandom for “an anthropomorphized Homo erectus pretending to be a cat wearing a dogsuit”.  I never have any drama caused by my packmates’ unmentionably-disgusting fursonal habits.  And Wifey would have a fit if I ever did anything that SomethingAwful.com would consider *typical furry behaviour*.  No-sir-ree-bob, we run a prim & proper household here; there is absolutely no reason for Child Protective Services to impound our geeklets “for their own good”.  Well, yes, we do have open-air piles of corrosive dihydrogen monoxide crystals at our homestead, but that’s the government’s fault.  Why don’t they clean these things?  Get that DHMO off my lawn!  It was only a few weeks ago that a fellow down by Sarnia was enveloped by DHMO crystals and died.  There outta be a law!

So, um, Objective Reality.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I think that Objective Reality actually exists, but is beyond our ken.  We live in a Subjective Reality that corresponds to the real world (more or less, sometimes a lot less) but is always separate from it.  In contradistinction to Plato, who believed that the material world is merely a shadow of the Real World of Ideas, I believe that the objects in the universe are just exactly what they are, but our finite ideas about those objects are mere shadows of the infinite ideas that would truly describe Objective Reality.  Unfortunately for our egos, our ideas about our ideas are also mere shadows of the True meta-ideas about how the universe really works.  And so on, to infinity.  There is just no way to think our way out of our sub-reality and into the real world.

I like this religion because it allows me to dismiss out-of-paw some of the wacky ideas that are floating around the noösphere.  Anyone who thumps his Bible as “the complete Word of God” is obviously deluded, because the complete Word of God must be infinitely long and so cannot be captured by any book of limited pages.  There used to be a lot of well-respected physicists who thought that Newton’s F=ma was Reality, but of course it could only ever have been Approximation.  Today, there are probably some scientists who think that Einstein's F=ma ∕ √1−(v²/c²) is Reality, but we *know* that this too must be Approximation because it is a finite formula with only a few variables.  In Reality, everything in the universe depends on everything else for each of its properties.  For practical purposes we can safely ignore most things most of the time—but occasionally something that we thought could be ignored will turn out to have been critically important, such as the effect of Hurricane Katrina upon President W.’s war plans.  This is the conundrum of our existence: we must approximate because we cannot perceive Objective Reality, but “Reality bites” and so we cannot approximate without risk.

Another nice feature of this religion is that it explains the existence of Magic.  As a professional computer programmer, I could hardly profess my Faith in any clockwork-universe philosophy that rejects Magic.  How then could I explain what it is that I do all day?  Arthur Clark said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, which is sometimes paraphrased as "Magic is technology you don’t understand” (see Zekmalados’ comment here).  To connect this with Objective Reality, I claim that “Magic is useful activity based on approximations of the laws of physics that you don’t happen to know”.  Since the Real laws of physics are infinitely complicated, no one can know all of their useful approximations, so for each person there are things he can do that will be perceived by others as Magic.  With a little practice, you can learn to perceive your own activities as Magic even though you know the physics approximations that make them work.  Do you understand how the “quantum tunnelling” effect works?  You can use a cell phone anyway, but it’s Magic to you!

I’ll admit to a certain vanity in my thoughts about Magic.  I believe that I have more Magic in my right rear dewclaw than you could find in an entire conference room full of Harry Potter fans, but I realize that this belief is Approximation and some Potter fans actually do have the Talent.  Still, it is a useful thought because it helps me to feel superior to the Mundanes.

Regarding E₈ and string theory: Oh dear, this post is too long already.  Maybe I’ll get to those next time.  Meanwhile, here’s a random disconnected link to a certain author’s thoughts on similar subjects.

pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
"There's plenty of scientific evidence that reality is created on the fly by the act of observation, at least in the small world of physics.  So perhaps the elemental particles literally did not exist until the first scientists detected them.  And so it follows that we can cause the elemental particles to have substructures, or not, by how hard we try to detect that sort of thing.  And that process of looking for, and therefore creating, substructures of substructures can be infinite."
--(link)

He's right, you know.  The idea that the laws of physics have never changed is just a convenient but unprovable assumption.  Did Einstein's theory *actually* predict the cosmic microwave background radiation *before* it was discovered, or did the discovery cause changes to the past so that of course the theory must always have described the universe as we see it now?  If the first CMB experiment had been done slightly differently, would we be living in a slightly different universe today with slightly-different physics from what we observe on our own causality/time-line?

If we can get a grip on this, we can start designing our experiments to increase the likelihood that they will have convenient side-effects on the laws of the universe.

Random other links:
Enough drugs to stupefy a rhinoceros (or: "I didn't get that F, I earned that F.")
I escaped from the prison you call home.
pyesetz: (Default)
The black line runs off the top of the graph!  The accompanying text says, "We have only had one September in the past 10 years that was colder than the 1971-2000 average (and that was only by 0.1 of a degree). So even though it was full degree above average this year, it was still the third coldest September of the past decade.".

pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
PZ Myers brought to my attention a page on the web called Battleground God.  I won the game, but it didn't make me feel good.

1. God Exists.
Easy: Don't Know is the only legitimate answer.  You can have faith that He exists, or you can be certain that not believing in Him is your best move as a citizen of modern society—but neither of these proves anything.

7. It is justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of these convictions.
Only True or False are permitted, but both answers should be acceptable.  This is basically asking, "Was it Plato or Aristotle who was completely correct about the nature of the universe?"  To humour the program, I chose False but any resulting inconsistencies would have been the program's fault for requiring a forced choice here.

8. Any being that it is right to call God must know everything that there is to know.
What does "there is to know" mean?  Does this include the phase angle for a pair of entangled photons?  I would have preferred "God knows everything knowable" because it may be (indeed, seems quite likely nowadays) that God's universe includes facts that are not knowable, even to God.  So I chose False.

10. If, despite years of trying, no strong evidence or argument has been presented to show that there is a Loch Ness monster, it is rational to believe that such a monster does not exist.
Yes, but this says nothing about whether Nessie actually exists.   For two thousand years it was impossible to prove the atomic theory of matter, but "absence of proof is not proof of absence".  For two hundred years it was impossible to disprove Newton's F=ma equation, but the equation was still wrong all that time.

11. People who die of horrible, painful diseases need to die in such a way for some higher purpose.
Another question with a forced true/false answer.  Since I answered Don't Know for the first question, I should answer the same here, but the program doesn't allow that.

13. It is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that God exists.
This could only be true if people were abstract thinking machines without physical bodies.  If your brain contains various pieces that evolved separately for separate reasons and work better together if you have an overall belief in God, then your justification is based on utility and you don't need "irrevocable" proof.  (And how can you "revoke" a proof?  How could a real-world proof of anything ever be "certain"?  There is always room for error!)

14. As long as there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality.
I do think that atheism is a matter of faith, but not for the reason given, so I answered False.  Atheism is the answer No for the first question, whose correct answer is unknowable.

15. The serial rapist Peter Sutcliffe had a firm, inner conviction that God wanted him to rape and murder prostitutes. He was, therefore, justified in believing that he was carrying out God's will in undertaking these actions.
This is apparently one of the "gotcha" questions designed to make you "bite a bullet" by adopting an unpopular position.  I answered False to dodge the bullet, but really I do think he was "justified", just as the police were "justified" in stopping him.  What does justification have to do with anything?

16. If God exists she would have the freedom and power to create square circles and make 1 + 1 = 72.
There's a whole bunch of these "my God can beat up your god" questions.  There's no way to know what God can or can't do.  Suppose God changed the value of π.  How could we detect that?  After God made the change, it would seem to us that π had always had the value we now perceive it to have because otherwise nothing in the universe would make any sense.  And everyone who's anyone knows that 1+1=10 in binary.

17. It is justifiable to believe in God if one has a firm, inner conviction that God exists, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of the conviction that God exists.
No, it is justifiable to believe in God because that is how our brains work.  This is the same reason why it is justifiable to believe that the Earth is flat while planning a car trip across town—but if you're crossing the continent then you really do need to use the fancy math to avoid wasting fuel.  So I answered False because the question contains an invalid subordinate clause.

Flood!

Mar. 14th, 2010 06:00 pm
pyesetz: (arctic-fox)
My basement flooded last night.  I saw it coming around 9 PM and started using a rug-washer as a water-pump, but the washer couldn't keep up, so around 11 PM I declared a "family emergency" and everyone had to help out getting stuff off the floor in the basement.

Thankfully the water level crested only a couple of inches above the floor, so the furnace continued working through the night.  Apparently only the very bottoms of the expensive washer+dryer got wet, so hopefully they'll continue to work.  The wooden bases under the bookshelves were submerged, but the water didn't get up to the books, so we didn't lose any of those.

I drove down to my local Home Hardware today and got a water pump.  They tried to charge me $107, as shown on that web-page, but the price tag on the pump said $92 so I got it for that price.

Not mentioned on that page: the pump comes with a "suction plate" that allows it to continue pumping until the water is only ⅛ inch deep—very nice!  But the pump is not rated for continuous duty: its instruction manual warns of overheating and suggests running it only 15 minutes per hour.  I've been running it for a ½ hour at a time; it seems to be doing okay because the water is cold.

But I still need a sump pump.  I've been putting that off since Sept. '07 and clearly I have put it off too long already.  A sump pump needs a sump and apparently a sump needs a permit from the township because it involves digging.

My parents' house used to flood all the time because the neighbour's willow tree was clogging the drain.  After many years (and many metre-deep floods and many books lost), they finally got a sump pump.  But one day, during some torrential rains, the sump pump couldn't keep up and water rose out of the sump and spread over the floor—so once again all toys had to be picked up off the floor before they got soaked.  Finally the neighbour got rid of his tree and all was right with the world.

So even with a sump pump, I might still need this new pump I just got, to help out during super-heavy rains.
pyesetz: (Default)
"Some things have evolved many times on Earth such as hearts, eyes and jointed limbs, and the four 'F's - flight, fur, photosynthesis and sex," says Jack Cohen, a reproductive biologist who has helped science fiction authors design plausible aliens for their books.

link
pyesetz: (fire-hunter)
Jakob Nielsen generally knows what he's talking about, especially when he's talking about eye-tracking studies (you know, the ones that show straight males staring at the crotches when looking at photos of male ballplayers).

Nielsen knows many things, but apparently he doesn't know as much about cavemen as he thinks he does.  Hold your nose while reading this:
Many of the skills needed to use computers aren't highly useful in slaying mammoths. Such skills include remembering obscure codes from one screen to the next and interpreting highly abbreviated form-field labels. It's no surprise that people are no good at these skills, since they weren't important for survival in the ancestral environment.

Did you notice all the citations of peer-reviewed work in that paragraph?  That's because there aren't any!  Highly-abbreviated form labels?  Obscure codes?  Does Nielsen have any idea at all how relevant these were for mammoth hunting?  Hint: the animal's traces don't have neon signs on them announcing "the thing you want to eat took a dump here".  The codes are obscure and abbreviated.

I don't think I'll be signing up for his seminar on how to build websites for cavemen.  Nielsen doesn't know the subject matter.
pyesetz: (Default)
In the "American style" for writing dates, last Friday was 10/23.  Some of the people who celebrate "Pi Day" on 3/14 also celebrate "mole day" on 10/23.  Did you know that there are the same number of molecules in 2 grams of hydrogen gas, 12 grams of soot, and 64.458 kg of hemoglobin?  Yes!  There are roughly 6.02214179 × 10²³ molecules in each of these things.

So what does this have to do with the star-nosed mole pictured at right?  (* Waves paws wildly *) I've been having shrew problems again.  Recently there was a shrew who got into my basement and apparently couldn't find his way back out again.  Eventually there was a little squeak as he found the extrance to the "weeping drain" which leads out from the basement.  Now shrews aren't moles (moles eat earthworms, while shrews eat centipedes, which I dislike more than them), but both moles and shrews are small black-furred mammals that make tunnels under the snow, so I'm calling them "close enough".

Speaking of dates, I wish the Canadians would just pick a system and go with it.  If you go to the grocery store and a canned food says its expiration date is "09/11/09", did it expire last month or will it expire next month?  Even the "Canadian standard" dates are ambiguous: does "09 JL 10" expire last July 10th or next July 9th?  Would it kill them to add a little extra ink to show the century at one end or the other?
pyesetz: (Default)
Behold the glory that is the bone-eating snot flower!  How did I find it?  This thing has its own website, which I found by Googling for its Linnaean name, after being unsatisfied with the description of it found in the Wikipedia article for its genus (the thing was discovered by suspending cow bones above the ocean floor and waiting to see what would show up to eat them).  I got to that genus article by clicking on the link "bone-eating snot flower" in the Wikipedia article on polychaete worms, which I got to by searching Wikipedia for "polychaete" after seeing the word in a blog post by Pharyngula entitled A Face You've Got to Love (which includes a photograph of "Barry", a 4ft long tropical bristle-worm and distant cousin of the snot flower).

Isn't the Internet a wonderful thing?

Sadly, the original article that Pharyngula linked includes this quote from the aquarium's curator: We also discovered that he is covered with thousands of bristles which are capable of inflicting a sting resulting in permanent numbness.  Since Barry is described as an extremely aggressive animal, I'm guessing that multiple aquarium personnel suffered permanent injuries while they were trying to figure out what to do with the mystery creature that was eating the fish in their display tank.  When you take a job like that, you never think it's going to be you.  Permanent injuries always happen to the other guy...
pyesetz: (Default)
On Thursday of last week, the drain pipe from my kitchen sink, laundry tub, and washer/dryer plugged up solid.  As mentioned before, the drain pipes in my house were rather sluggish when I moved in and have been getting slowly worse ever since.  On Friday I used Google Maps to find the closest plumber to my house, since if I was going to start a new business relationship with a plumber, I wanted one who would be willing to come to my house if our single toilet stopped working in the middle of a blizzard (because of course that is when it would happen).

On Friday, at 4:45 PM, exactly when promised, the neighbour-plumber showed up and spent a solid hour reaming out my pipes.  Then I had a nice weekend.  On Monday, at 3 PM (a little earlier than promised and without the preceding phone call that had been promised), the neighbour-plumber brought over one of the dozen journeyman plumbers who works for him.  The journeyman re-hung the kitchen sink drain pipe to have a sharper slope (and removed the narrow copper section that was slowing the waste down), replaced the hot-water supply pipe that I had repaired with aquarium cement over a year ago, and tightened the screws on the toilet tank.

Yesterday, the plumber called to confirm my last name and said he'd hand-deliver a bill.  I still haven't gotten it yet.

My original plan was to call a plumber about the drain pipes when the aquarium cement failed, but it didn't fail!

* * * * *

Yesterday I received an email from ServerMojo.com, which I had signed up for a long time ago but then never used.  The subject was "ServerMojo trial expired" and the body explained that I needed to sign up for a paid account if I wanted to keep using the thing.

Today I received another email, with subject "ServerMojo trial *not* expired", explaining that yesterday's email was erroneous because my account is so old that is effectively a permanent free account.  It said, "If you didn't yet know we'd recently launched a new and much improved ServerMojo - well this isn't quite the way we wanted to tell you but we hope you will have a look now and check it out anyway!"

* * * * *

My area has both grey squirrels and the melanistic "black squirrel", which is a mere colour-variant and the two kinds of squirrels interbreed (just like the different colours of humans do, except where authoritarians have made it their business to put a stop to the "miscegenation").

Today I saw a squirrel whose fur was a mixture of grey and reddish.  It looked perhaps like it was in the middle of molting.  Wikipedia claims that the red squirrel does not live in Canada, but does molt from grey to red in the spring.  Perhaps it was a fox squirrel.  The sighting was in a public park, so I didn't kill the "living fossil" and turn it into a squirrel sandwich.

Wanna bet?

Dec. 22nd, 2008 03:15 pm
pyesetz: (Default)


After two solid months of below-average temperatures, the forecast now calls for two weeks of warmth -- most of it actually above freezing!  My dog "Walnut" will be so happy that the days of -20°C wind-chills will soon be over.  Happy days are here again!

Anyone wanna bet that a "Colorado low" or a "quick-forming storm over Texas" will invalidate this forecast and give us another two weeks of snow-every-day?

* * * * *

I'm not sure how this relates to Global Warming.  Apparently the melting in the Arctic is causing overheated weather in Russia this year, while Canada (and much of the USA) gets Russia's usual weather due to a 90° shift in the usual Arctic wind patterns.  La Niña is in "neutral" this year, while the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is in a medium-term "cool" phase which is covering up some of the long-term Global Warming effects.  When will I be able to plant a palm tree in my back yard?

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